By Tunde Liadi
For Emmanuel Uchegbu, it was a fantastic first impression on FC IfeanyiUbah fans and a dream debut when he scored two goals on his first outing in their 3-0 victory over Katsina United in one of last weekend’s fixtures of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) played at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi.
The youngster was recruited at the start of the season but he was unable to break into the team straight up and had to bid his time. It wasn’t smooth sailing at the start and Uchegbu confessed that though he had reasons to doubt if he could make it in football, he still kept on working on his game until the breakthrough came recently.
The chance came in FC IfeanyiUbah’s away trip to far away Gombe’s Pantami Stadium, the temporary home ground of Adamawa United following the non-approval of their home turf, the Yola stadium for NPFL matches. The Anambra Warriors head coach, Uche Okagbue admitted to www.npfl.ng that Uchegbu showed consistent glimpses that he was ripe for top-flight football in the past few weeks hence he had no hesitation in handing him his professional debut in Gombe.
Okagbue noted that Uchegbu was able to distinguish himself against Adamawa United and that his commendable performance in Gombe and in the few training sessions they had before the build-up to their latest game with Katsina United convinced him he should be given more playing opportunities.
In Coach Okagbue’s words,: “You know we have a crop of young players and we do not believe in names. You are going to be given your chance once you prove yourself during training sessions.
“Emmanuel Uchegbu has kept on working hard and he got his chance in Gombe against Adamawa United. He also came into the team for the game with Katsina United due to his performance in the build-up to the game.”
The youngster repaid the confidence reposed in him by his coach with two goals and a Man of the Match display in their 3-0 home win over Katsina United on his official home debut and in only his second game of his professional career.
An overwhelmed Uchegbu was speechless when npfl.ng caught up with him after the energy-sapping game in Nnewi but he managed to attribute his stellar start to his professional career to his hard work and his undying passion to seek improvement even to the last details.
He said he knows he still has a long way to go and as such won’t get carried away by the adulation that has followed his performance, pledging to channel the commendations positively to help transform the Anambra Warriors’ season from a perennial topflight struggling team to being among the frontrunners by the time the current season ends later in the year.
“I am happy to score two goals for my team and ensure we bring smiles back to the faces of our fans. It was an emphatic win that we have worked so hard for and it is a special feeling for me to be part of those that made that happen,” Uchegbu told npfl. ng.
“I have not achieved anything yet. I hope to continue working hard to gain the trust of my coaches and my teammates. I know I got two goals but it is still the team’s goals and aspirations that go above any personal ambition. I just want to help my team.
” I want FC IfeanyiUbah to be rated among the top teams in the league. We are currently struggling with relegation but I am hoping through our performance, the club will move to the top half of the table and finish the season strongly,” he concluded.
Uchegbu was recruited at the beginning of the season in the massive screening sessions the Anambra Warriors organised to keep in tandem with the club’s new policy of remaining self-sufficient and generating a pool of players from the grassroots. He and his new teammates have so far, shown it has been a wise decision from the club’s top.
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